Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia David Zalkaliani on the Presidency of Georgia of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On November 27, Georgia is becoming the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. This is both: high responsibility and encouraging challenge at the same time since Georgia will exercise its Presidency in the International Organization for the first time.
Since the restoration of independence, Georgia has been facing multiple challenges. Afterwards the complex process of the establishment of the governmental institutions and civil society has begun in the country. There are still many things to do, however today I can declare with pride that Georgia is not only a country of an ancient history and traditions but a successful and modern state that gained its genuinely deserved place within the international community.
Historically, Georgian people highly respect European values as a foundation for democratic development of the country and advancement of society honoring the human rights and fundamental freedoms. Even in the beginning of XX century, Georgian public figures were talking about Georgia’s return to European civilization. Today, with the current challenges, the progress based on European values gains even more significance.
Georgia has become the Council of Europe’s member exactly two decades ago. Country’s membership in this organization symbolized the aspirations of the Georgian people towards the European values and identified the readiness of the country to launch the significant reforms in the spheres of human rights, rule of law and democratic development.
I am confident to declare that Georgia and the Council of Europe has been interlinked by effective collaboration for 20 years. Throughout these years the number of important reforms along with the numerous projects have been implemented with direct engagement of the Council of Europe. Georgia actively participates in the activities of the Organization as well as vice versa - the Organization itself is actively engaged in addressing the existential challenges that Georgia faces.
70 years ago, the creation of the Organization with the aim of unconditional protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, was a huge breakthrough for Europe exhausted by the confrontations. The legal vacuum, existed at that time, has been filled by the effective instrument of protection of citizen’s individual rights and freedoms. This unique system established by the Council of Europe soon became the shared European achievement.
Along with the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the main purpose of establishing this organization has been an effort to facilitate the development of European cultural identity and diversity. Through urgent institutional build-up the Organization has been seeking for joint solution of existing problems such as – discrimination of minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, trafficking in human beings, corruption, domestic violence against women and children, etc. Hereby, let me specifically underline the importance of the European Court of Human Rights. This unique structure established by the European Convention on Human Rights gives the access to the hundreds of millions of people to the justice and the rule of law.
Georgian Presidency gives us an opportunity to contribute to the strengthening of the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe. Georgia’s goal is to be the consumer as well as respectable contributor and defender of the system of values established by the Organization. From my view-point the above-mentioned has become as crucially important as never before taking into account challenges the Council of Europe faces today.
The current complex agenda of the Council of Europe makes the Presidency even more responsible for Georgia. At this defining time for the Council of Europe it is critically important to achieve the consolidation around the common values that 70 years ago created a foundation for the Organization and should remain its firm basis today.
As the representatives of Chair country we would like to draw your attention to the priorities of the Georgian Presidency – Human Rights and Environmental Protection; Civil Participation in Decision-Making; Child Friendly Justice – Converging Experience on Restorative Justice in Europe and Strengthening Democracy through Education, Culture and Youth Engagement.
The goal of focusing on those issues is to once again draw the attention of the Council of Europe to the existing flaws as well as to share and consolidate reached progress.
Allow me to ensure you that as a chair-country, Georgia is open for further fruitful collaboration.